Meeting Literature Nobel Prizes
Thread poster: Aurora Humarán
Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
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Nov 2, 2004


2004 Nobel Prize - Elfriede Jelinek - Austria

"for her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society's clichés and their subjugating power".


Elfriede Jelinek, born in the Steiermark region of Austria in 1946, made her literary debut in 1967 with the publication of a poetry collection called "Lisas Schatten" ("Lisa's Shadow"). But she first gained wider attention with the 1970 release of a satirical novel, "We Are Decoys, Baby," which set the theme for much of her later work, in which she unemotionally -some would say coldly- illustrates the violence and power plays inherent in human relations, especially those between the sexes.

[...]While she has become one of Austria's most influential voices, but her subject matter and style, sometimes considered pornographic, has drawn good deal of criticism. She is controversial to say the least.[...]

source: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,1564,1352119,00.html


Let's read her...

[...]Actors tend to be false, while their audiences are genuine. For we, the audiences, are necessary, while actors are not. For this reason the people on stage can be vague, with blurred outlines. Accessories of life without which we would leave again, pocketbooks glued to the slackening crooks of our arms. The actors are as superfluous as these bags--filled as they are, like dirty handkerchiefs, with candy boxes, cigarette cartons, and--yes!--poetry. Blurred ghosts. Products without sense, for their sense is, after all, "the product of a supervised liberty" (Barthes). For every move on stage a certain quantity of liberty is available from which the actor can take a portion. There is the pond of liberty, and the actor--please help yourself!--takes his portion of the juice, his distress-liquid, his secretions. There's no secret about that. He adds his snot. But however much he is going to take from his supply of gesturing and strutting about, the gabbing must be imitable, for he and others like him must be able to mimic it exactly. Like fashion clothing: Each piece is defined, but at the same time not too tightly delimited with respect to what it is supposed to do. Sweater, dress--they all have their leeways and holes for the arms. Yes. And what's really necessary: that's us! We don't have the liberty to be false. Those guys on the stage, however, they do. For they are the ornaments of our life--movable and removable by the hand of God, the director.[...]

I want to be shallow (c) 1997 Elfriede Jelinek

Translated by Jorn Bramann



For only the ninth time in the 103-year history of the Nobel Prize, the award for literature has gone to a woman. Elfriede Jelinek was commended for her frequent critiques of consumerism and the subjugation of women.


[Edited at 2004-11-23 19:22]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
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Jelinek must be read in German Nov 3, 2004

I cannot imagine that any of her texts could be translated and deliver its full meaning. Her most successful technic is to use an idiomatic piece, a children rhyme or a popular phrase and put in a context where it's meaning turns against itself. I do not envy any of our colleagues who is put to the task of translating Jelinek, now that she is a Nobelist. Her texts are not even translatable into German, really, unless you are content with some kind of Readers Digest kind of extract.

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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
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The untranslatable Nobelist Nov 3, 2004

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

I cannot imagine that any of her texts could be translated and deliver its full meaning.

Her texts are not even translatable into German, really, unless you are content with some kind of Readers Digest kind of extract.


Humm...you whetted my curiosity! Now I NEED to read her to meet her, in the first place, and to see how translators into Spanish have managed to 'tackle' her.

Au


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
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2003 Nobel Prize - John M. Coetzee - South Africa Nov 3, 2004



"who in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider".

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, on February 9, 1940, J. M. Coetzee* studied first at Cape Town and later at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a Ph.D. degree in literature. In 1972 he returned to South Africa and joined the faculty of the University of Cape Town. His works of fiction include Dusklands, Waiting for the Barbarians, which won South Africa's highest literary honor, the Central News Agency Literary Award, and the Life and Times of Michael K., for which Coetzee was awarded his first Booker Prize in 1983. He has also published a memoir, Boyhood: Scenes From a Provincial Life, and several essays collections. He has won many other literary prizes including the Lannan Award for Fiction, the Jerusalem Prize and The Irish Times International Fiction Prize. In 1999 he again won Britain's prestigious Booker Prize for Disgrace, becoming the first author to win the award twice in its 31-year history. In 2003 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

His last name is to be pronounced: 'coot-SEE-uh'



Below is J.M. Coetzee’s speech at the Nobel Banquet, December 10, 2003, a short and ‘special’ speech:

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen; Distinguished Guests, Friends

The other day, suddenly, out of the blue, while we were talking about something completely different, my partner Dorothy burst out as follows: "On the other hand," she said, "on the other hand, how proud your mother would have been! What a pity she isn't still alive! And your father too! How proud they would have been of you!"
"Even prouder than of my son the doctor?" I said. "Even prouder than of my son the professor?"
"Even prouder."
"If my mother were still alive," I said, "she would be ninety-nine and a half. She would probably have senile dementia. She would not know what was going on around her."
But of course I missed the point. Dorothy was right. My mother would have been bursting with pride. My son the Nobel Prize winner. And for whom, anyway, do we do the things that lead to Nobel Prizes if not for our mothers?
"Mommy, Mommy, I won a prize!"
"That's wonderful, my dear. Now eat your carrots before they get cold."
Why must our mothers be ninety-nine and long in the grave before we can come running home with the prize that will make up for all the trouble we have been to them?
To Alfred Nobel, 107 years in the grave, and to the Foundation that so faithfully administers his will and that has created this magnificent evening for us, my heartfelt gratitude. To my parents, how sorry I am that you cannot be here.
Thank you.

© The Nobel Foundation, 2003


Suggested reading on Coetzee: http://www.uwc.ac.za/arts/english/interaction/95jg.htm
“The Classic": translation-violence-irony" - Johan Geertsema



[Edited at 2004-11-23 19:25]


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
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2002 Nobel Prize - Imre Kertész Hungary Nov 23, 2004



"for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history"
(*) Source: http://nobelprize.org/literature/laureates/2002/

Imre Kertész was born in Budapest in 1929. In 1944 he was deported to Auschwitz. Between 1949 and 1950 he was a journalist working for the newspaper "Világosság". Among other prizes he received: the Brandenburg Literary Prize (1995) and the Leipzich Book Prize for European Understanding (1997).

Let's read him speaking about the translations of his works:

The frustrations of being mistranslated had weighed heavily on Kertész for the past decade. "I really tried to protest against the first translations, but I found complete rejection," Kertész says. "The publisher (Northwestern University) was not willing to do new translations. It was a really bad feeling. It was as if you had a very sane character who has a rendezvous with the reader and the person who shows up is basically a real jerk, with a stammer, bad breath and a foul mouth."

The first translators did their own inaccurate interpretations of his work. "The translators didn't understand what I wrote about," says Kertész, still cringing. "The radical nature of my words was something that estranged them. They thought in the interest of the reader, they would make the text more human, to round it off and chisel it a bit."

The translations of Liquidation and the two older books have Kertész' ecstatic approval. "I got carried away with Tim Wilkinson's new translations," he says. "I'm extremely overjoyed."


(*) I found that the Nobel Prize Web Site gives a brief explanation for awarding each Nobel Prize. Think it's interesting and will include this 'rationale' close to the photographs and in italics.
Au


[Edited at 2004-11-23 19:23]


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Johanna Timm, PhD  Identity Verified
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Social phobia Nov 24, 2004

I love her work ....and was especially intrigued to hear that despite of her sometimes abrasive style and cynical comments, she obviously is an extremely introverted person who even declined to deliver the speech she was expected to give:

"Fearful of crowds she might encounter at the Nobel Prize ceremonies in Stockholm, Elfriede Jelinek, the Austrian author who won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Literature, recorded a speech in Vienna that was delivered in her absence. Jelinek said: "I did this because I cannot go to Sweden because of my social phobia. I cannot stand crowds."

cheers,
j.


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Stefan Tobler  Identity Verified
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Jelinek Nov 26, 2004

Nice to hear that unqualified 'I love her work' from you, Johanna! Any favourites?

I have the four books that Serpent's Tail have published in English, and loved the first one, Women as Lovers -- my amazon-commissioned review is here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1852422378

After that I started Wonderful Wonderful Times and The Piano Teacher, but found the continual negativity a little wearing. But who knows, sometimes it's all about timing with books, isn't it?


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
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2001 Nobel Prize - VS Naipul - United Kingdom Dec 29, 2004




"for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories"

Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul was born in 1932, near Port of Spain in Trinidad, in a family descended from Hindu immigrants from northern India. His grandfather worked in a sugar cane plantation and his father was a journalist and writer.

He went to England at the age of 18 to study at Oxford University, and has lived in England since then, devoting himself to writing.

Naipaul's views on religion have raised some eyebrows. "If you follow the whole oeuvre of Naipaul, he is very critical of all religions," Academy board member Per Wastberg told Reuters.

[...]The history I carried with me, together with the self-awareness that had come with my education and ambition, had sent me into the world with a sense of glory dead; and in England had given me the rawest stranger's nerves. Now ironically – or aptly – living in the grounds of this shrunken estate, going out for my walks, those nerves were soothed, and in the wild garden and orchard beside the water meadows I found a physical beauty perfectly suited to my temperament and answering, besides, every good idea I could have had, as a child in Trinidad, of the physical aspect of England.[...] from The Enigma of Arrival

His full name was: Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
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2000 Nobel Prize - Gao Xingjian - China Jan 11, 2005



...for an œuvre of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama.

Gao Xingjian, the man who wears many hats - painter, novelist, playwright, translator, director, and critic -- is the first China-born recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature since the prize's inception more than one hundred years ago. He was born in Jiangxi, province of eastern China, in 1940. He is currently a French citizen living in Paris.


You no longer live in other people's shadows nor treat other people's shadows as imaginary enemies. You just walked out of their shadows, stopped making up absurdities and fantasies, and are now in a vast emptiness and tranquillity. You originally came into the world naked and without cares and there is no need to take anything away with you, and if you wanted to you wouldn't be able to. Your only fear is unknowable death.

from One Man's Bible


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
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1999 Nobel Prize - Günter Grass Feb 28, 2005



"whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history"


A paragraph from his Nobel Lecture:

Yes, I love my calling. It keeps me company, a company whose polyphonic chatter calls for literal transcription into my manuscripts. And there is nothing I like more than to meet books of mine – books that have long since flown the coop and been expropriated by readers – when I read out loud to an audience what now lies peacefully on the page. For both the young, weaned early from language, and the old, grizzled yet still rapacious, the written word becomes spoken, and the magic works again and again. It is the shaman in the author earning a bit on the side, writing against the current of time, lying his way to tenable truths. And everyone believes his tacit promise: To Be Continued ...

Günter Grass


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